Square Contactless + Chip Card Reader

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Gone are the days when your only option for purchasing something was to hand over something else of equal value, or even pieces of paper that represented that value. Exciting new technologies are creating exciting new ways for us to buy stuff. Making payments using only your mobile device is the current trendy form of transaction, and no service does it better than Square, our Editors' Choice for mobile credit card readers and point-of-sale (POS) software solutions. But even within that category there are multiple emerging methods for businesses without cash registers to get paid. Fortunately, the new Square Contactless + Chip Card Reader has the future-proof features those businesses need.

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Getting Started
To use the $49 Square Contactless + Chip Card Reader you must first download the free Square app for your phone or tablet and then pair your device to the reader via Bluetooth. I tested with a Moto X. Connecting the reader by Bluetooth results in the same functionality you with Square readers connected via the headphone jack of your phone. The whole transaction process occurs on the mobile app, and it's thoroughly explained for beginners. Merchants can also take advantage of useful features such as item categorization and sales-history tracking. For more on the excellent Square app as a whole, including customer testimonials and a detailed overview of features, check out my full examination of the service, which is detailed in my review of the the $29 Square Chip Card Reader, another hardware option that is smaller but includes only magstripe and EMV functionality. More on EMV below.

The Square Contactless + Chip Card Reader empowers businesses to accept two of the newest mobile credit card reader technologies: EMV and NFC. is a new security standard designed to make transactions less risky for consumers. If you've recently received a new credit or debit card, it probably has an embedded, visible EMV chip. Instead of swiping EMV cards to make a payment, customers insert their card chip-first into the reader's slot. The reader then quickly recognizes the card and processes the payment. technology, by comparison, lets customers simply wave their phones over the reader to make a payment. 

EMV is actually the only way to pay with credit cards using the Contactless + Chip Card Reader, since there is no mechanism for swiping typical magstripe cards. I find this a little odd. It's good to be prepared for the future, but there are lots of people currently without chip cards. To accept payments from them, businesses must use the separate, basic magstripe reader mobile dongle, thankfully bundled with the Contactless + Chip Card Reader along with the Micro USB charging cable. But switching between two devices isn't ideal. The Square Chip Card Reader accepts both card types in a single product, as does the PayPal Chip Card Reader, which also includes NFC. However, PayPal's device costs three times as much as Square's and is somewhat bulky, with its mostly unnecessary screen and number pad. The Contactless + Chip Card Reader is an elegant, Apple-esque piece of hardware, an unassuming thin, white box that fits in the palm of your hand. While the double readers aren't a perfect solution, I would still choose them over the PayPal device. 

The Contactless + Chip Card Reader is, however, the easiest, most affordable way to equip your business with NFC, the wireless communication technology that powers mobile payment services such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. During checkout, users with NFC-compatible phones can simply tap their phone on the reader and make a secure payment. NFC will only take off if it's convenient and available in more stores. Square's reader is the most convenient NFC solution for buyers and sellers alike.  

Hip to Be Square
No matter what hardware you decide to go with, on the software side, Square is our Editors' Choice among services that offer credit card readers and point-of-sale solutions to your business. If you don't think NFC is necessary, and don't want to switch between two different devices, the Magstripe + Chip Card Reader might be the better pick. But if you want to handle the mobile payment and credit card options of the foreseeable future, spend a few more bucks and go with the Contactless + Chip Card Reader.

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